252 B. POLEVOI Each ate a plateful of the "superior" jelly that was as sour as vinegar, chatted merrily about everything except, as if by common agreement, two subjects—Gvozdev and Meresyev—and later made arrangements to turn in on their respective couches. Anyuta went into the corridor and waited until she heard Alexei's artificial feet fall to the floor with a tap, then walked in, put the lamp out, undressed and went to bed. The room was dark, they were silent, but from the rustle of the sheets and the twang of the bed springs, she knew that he was awake. At last Anyuta asked: "Are you asleep, Alyosha?" "No." "Thinking?" "Yes. And you?" "I'm thinking too." They fell silent again. In the street a street-car screeched as it turned the corner. For an instant the flash of an electric spark from its trolley lit up the room, and in that instant each saw the face of the other. Both were lying with eyes wide open. Alexei had not said a word to Anyuta about his fruit- less wanderings, but she guessed that his affairs were in a bad way and that, perhaps, his indomitable spirit was being worn down by disappointment. Her feminine intui- tion told her how much that man must be suffering, but it also told her that, hard as it may be for him at this moment, a word of sympathy would only aggravate his pain and that commiseration would only offend. He, in turn, was lying on his back, with his head resting on his hands, thinking about the pretty girl in the bed a few paces away from his own, the sweetheart of his friend and a good comrade. He only had to take a few steps across the dark room to reach her; but nothing in the world could induce him to take those few steps, as if the girl, whom he knew little, but who had given him shelter, was his own sister. Major Struchkov would probably jeer at' him, probably not believe him, if he told him about this. But who could tell? Perhaps now he would be able to understand him better than anybody else.... What a fine girl Anyuta is! Poor thing, how tired she gets, and yet how enthusiastic she is about her work at the base hospital!